The bold and the beautiful
After years of neutrals, colour has returned to our walls. Nathalie Marquez Courtney meets two interior designers whose interiors celebrate gloriously bold hues
Move over all-white walls, we're back playing with colour - and in a big way. There's something about a dramatic wall colour that is thrilling, and it's a bold move away from the greige look that has dominated for so long.
Ultra Violet, Pantone's colour of the year, is a rich, luxe purple that heralds the return of daring, confident hues. "It's definitely brave and opulent," says interior designer Roisin Lafferty, who has collaborated with Fleetwood Paints to bring this, and five other Pantone shades, to life. "For me, it was about creating a nostalgic, jewel-toned, inspirational palette."
Colour me happy
Moving away from nicely neutral allows you not only to be more playful, but to use colour psychology in your space to impact your mood. "You can create an environment that stimulates excitement and positive feeling, which is pretty amazing," says Roisin. "And though these new colours seem vibrant, they are still very calming. When you step into a room painted in Deep Teal or Marsala, it takes away all the stress you brought in, it's very tranquil."
Room by room
Vibrant shades like Ultra Violet work well in entertaining spaces, says Roisin, as they convey energy and drama while also creating an intimate atmosphere. The rich, deep, red earth tones, such as Pantone's Marsala, meanwhile, suit a study and contrast well with teak or mahogany furniture.
All over hue
Experimenting with colour doesn't stop at walls, either. You can create an immersive experience by painting the ceiling in a matching hue or even taking the colour to the floor. "We stain floors or paint them black or white, but don't necessarily think to add colour," she says. "If you've got a plywood or oak floor, or old timber boards that you are thinking of replacing, this can be a fun way to add something unexpected."
If you're considering trying an all-over hue, Roisin recommends the tranquil, moody tones of Fleetwood Pantone Rose Mahogany. "I would encourage people to paint the ceiling, doors, skirting - paint it all in," she says. "It creates a dramatic and all-encompassing effect."
Pop your colour
Though Pantone grabs the headlines each year with their colour of the year announcement, they're not the only ones embracing bright hues this season. Dulux is also experimenting with a number of more daring and diverse palettes - pale mint and teal paired with sweet pinks, and bursts of mustard yellow, designed to evoke a "stylish Palm Springs spa", are definitely not for the faint-hearted. The rich ochres, terracottas and rust hues of its eclectic Kinship range might prove more suitable for Irish homes and work well teamed with mid-century furniture and oversized botanicals, for a subtle 1970s finish. Benjamin Moore's colour of the year, meanwhile, was Caliente, a bold red that teams well with everything from pale pinks to warm greys.
Being brave with shades
Of course, there is a reason neutral shades have been plodding along nicely for so long. They go with everything and are hard to mess up. While these new hues are exciting, Roisin recognises that they can also be intimidating, or worse overpowering. "It helps to think about it like fashion, where people tend to be a lot more confident and not overthink things - you just naturally gravitate towards what you like," she says. "So it's about having personality, and not trying to look like any one trend in particular. Trust your own gut a bit more, and allow your personality to shine through."
Classic meet colour
Award-winning London-based designer Lucinda Sanford agrees, and brought her love of colour to a beautiful house on Dublin's Beechwood Road. This family home proves that period properties don't need to be painted in 'traditional' colours; they have the bone structure to carry off way more daring hues.
"It's really exciting to see colour making a comeback," Lucinda says. "Layer and colour are what I love, those are my two favourite things." She encourages homeowners to take the plunge, especially if they are in the midst of a big refurbishment. "The decorator is there and it doesn't matter whether they're painting white or yellow, you're still paying them to decorate. This is when you can make a really big impact without spending a lot, so you might as well paint in interesting colours."
Having previously collaborated with the owners of Beechwood Road when they were based in London, Lucinda was asked to work on this property in part thanks to her signature use of colour. "I pushed them a little, but they let me go with it because they trust me," she says. The result is an impressive, bold space that uses some daring colour combinations.
Off the wall
Like Roisin, Lucinda wasn't afraid to be playful and take the colours beyond the four walls of each room and onto unexpected places like ceilings and woodwork. Though the drawing room in the house is painted a neutral colour, she lifted the room up with the colours of the adjoining dining room's skirting and woodwork. "There's a view that all woodwork should be white, but I completely disagree," she says. The same goes for ceilings. "I'll often get calls from the painters to ask, 'do you really mean to paint the ceiling not-white?'," Lucinda says. "But using a subtle, soft colour on the ceiling can take the edge off a room."
Her advice for anyone hoping to start experimenting this season? "Start with one room and just be brave with it," she says emphatically. "Being adventurous with colour can really make your house feel decorated - even if you can't buy all the curtains and the sofas and the furnishings you want straight away."
- kingstonlaffertydesign.com; lucindasanford.com
5 ways to decorate with colour
1 Work with what you have
“It’s great to look at Pinterest and be inspired, but you also need to be realistic and consider what you already have to work with,” says Roisin Lafferty. Unless you’re going for a total revamp, stick to shades that are going to work with the furniture and environment you already have. Ask key questions like how much natural light is coming in? Are there any key pieces that you really want to keep in that room? Are there any fixtures that are already set?”
2 Low light room? Go to the dark side
Many people try to brighten up rooms that don’t get great light by painting them white, but Roisin recommends going the opposite way. “Go for richer tones in the darker rooms, as they actually complement them more and create a cosy atmosphere.”
3 Use the whole pot
When trying out new shades, don’t be tempted to brush on a measly single swipe.“You can’t see how it’s really going to look by using a tiny little bit and then you’ve got half a pot left anyway so you might as well just go for it.” says Lucinda. “Paint the whole sample pot onto a piece of lining paper and stick it up — it makes it a lot easier to see.”
4 Go big or go home
Feature walls can seem like a tempting way to experiment, but they often leave you in a design no man’s land. “A feature wall offsets the balance in the room quite a lot,” says Lucinda. “It’s much better to take one room and just experiment with it.”
5 Personality first, trends second
Though picking a colour to paint an entire room in can seem daunting, you’re probably already closer to making a decision than you think. Everyone has a favourite colour, and even tonal preferences they tend to gravitate towards; some people like jewel-shades while others prefer pastel hues. Look to your wardrobe for inspiration or use it as a jumping-off point.